Making the self suffer is a cornerstone of many successful philosophies:
I was prompted to consider this strategy by Conan O’Brien on his podcast with Stephen Colbert. Both Catholics, they described intentionally putting themselves through strife. “I did hairshirt behavior,” Colbert says (34:37).
Conan (36:27): “This is pain… where any normal person would tell you, any therapist would say, ‘This suffering is unnecessary. You achieved nothing with this suffering.”… I put myself through a lot of torture. And here’s the crazy thing: what happens when you do that and then magical things start to happen for you? You can’t see me because it’s a podcast, but Stephen just pointed his finger at me as if to say, ‘You nailed it.’”
Stephen, a few lines later: “It works.”
Conan: “What I hate, I hate… I hate thait it fucking works.”
Stephen: “And the magical thinking magically thinks that magical thinking worked.”
Conan: “It’s the biggest fight I’ve had over the last five years with therapists and friends.” … “Therapists have said, ‘You don’t need the suffering.’ and I 80% believe them and I’m 20% like, ‘what the fuck do you know?'”
Is making yourself suffer a strategy for improving? Does it work? Comments greatly appreciated.
Since this year began, I have written and published each day. (Some “days” were completed 2 am the next morning, but I pre-determined that to be okay.)
I only once spewed a first draft, tabbed to publish a different writing, and forgot to polish the original spewing. A technical success, but not within the spirit of the law (nor something I’d like to repeat).
Since May 2017, I’ve written every day. (In addition to that half-time, I’ve only forgotten once, wherein I wrote twice the next to compensate). I’ll continue this habit, probably for the next eight years. That would make ten. Hell, I could do this for life.
What if my dating profile were just a list of my values? After all, that’s what I’m searching for.
My values, 9 Feb 2019
(In the order they came to me)
- Positive impact
- The human species
- Honesty of impact, not necessarily of speech
- Word choice
- Personal optimization
- [Censored for privacy]
- Personal improvement
- The youth group I advise
- [Censored for privacy]
- My long-form creative projects (especially my novel. Soon to be my TV show as well)
Previous values that no longer carry such great strength:
- Board games (comes back out when I’m with old friends/family)
- [Censored for privacy]
As a kid, I’d schedule a play date weeks in advance. These days, even when after confirming a reptile festival the day before, I still assume a 50-50 chance my friend bails. When he does, 8am day-of, I’m annoyed. I’m confused. How much is him and how much is changing culture?
I’m not here to tell you, “Something is lost.” It is, but that’s not the point. Instead, it’s simply that some things have changed:
- We’ve lost certainty and confidence.
- We’ve gained flexibility and opportunism.
- We’ve lost reliability and comfort.
- We’ve gained the more frequent upgrades.
- We’ve lost security in friendships.
- We’ve gained the freedom to follow our whims.
If people still lock down plans, I don’t know them. My friends might be outliers, or perhaps the Bay Area’s incessant climbing keeps everyone on the lookout for upgrades. Or maybe this experience is a worldwide phenomenon. Faster communication means more rapidly changing circumstances.
No matter the reason, I must adjust. It’s a tough lesson to learn. Negative punishment can easily become mis-associated. In this case, to self-blame:
- “What did I do that made him cancel?”
- “What’s wrong with me that made him cancel?”
I try not to see it in those ways. I try to see it as the new world order. I think that’s accurate, but I’m not sure. Are you?
Why do I consistently wait until the last minute to complete work? (I recently completed my largest project of all time. I had over a month to complete what amounted to 44 hours of work, yet I still crunched through 38 hours in the final two days, staying up until 5:30 am and evolving into a giddy, manic machine).
- Being in time-crunch is thrilling and I enjoy a good rush.
- It makes work take less time, and I don’t like work. (Since I don’t have time to lollygag or double-back, I don’t lollygag or double back).
- “That’s a problem for future-Julian, and what has that guy ever done for me?”
- I’m a lazy fuck… who does what he promises. (I would never do it, but that’s not an option so I come as close as possible.)
- The system works so I have no incentive to change it.
- You never know when the teacher will change the assignment last minute. Did I say “teacher”? I meant “customer”. They’re shockingly similar.
Why do I call my blog “Always Better”? Four reasons:
- It should be strictly better than some other activities. Eating popcorn or browsing Reddit, for example: this blog should Always be a Better use of time.
- I Always want to be a Better writer. Better than who? Better than I was yesterday. Better than I was this morning. Better than I’ve ever been.
- It’s a pun for what I wanted to be when I started the blog: Better in All Ways. 
- They say creative lives are a gamble. That makes this blog is a bet, which means I’m Always Betting.
 I no longer want that. Instead, I’ve turned off improvement in some areas to focus more on the few I care strongly about.
 I haven’t fount my creative life particularly gamble-y, but that’s a topic for another time.